Jane to lead Banyana from mid­dle of the park

Cap­tain ex­pe­ri­enced enough to en­sure SA con­quer Cosafa

Sowetan - - Sport - By Daniel Mothowa­gae in Bu­l­awayo

Fresh from cap­tain­ing Team SA at the World Stu­dents Games in Taipei, it was in­evitable that Banyana would turn to mid­fielder Re­filoe Jane to lead them in the Cosafa Women’s Cup.

The univer­sity games in Taipei were the third ma­jor event Jane had com­peted in in the last 12 months, and her vast ex­pe­ri­ence will be key in coach De­siree El­lis’s bid to con­quer the re­gional com­pe­ti­tion that kicked off in Zim­babwe yes­ter­day.

SA open their Cosafa cam­paign against Le­sotho at Lu­veve Sta­dium to­day (2pm). This will be a maiden clash with the neigh­bours from the Moun­tain King­dom.

“We are favourites but it doesn’t mean we must un­der­es­ti­mate our op­po­nents,” said Jane, 25, who took over the arm­band in the ab­sence of reg­u­lar skip­per, the US-based de­fender Ja­nine van Wyk.

Jane, how­ever, be­lieves the abun­dance in sea­soned cam­paign­ers in the team is enough to wade off any threats by Le­sotho this af­ter­noon.

“Com­ing from in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments means one comes back with a load of ex­pe­ri­ence. It is im­por­tant for us to utilise this to win the first game,” said Jane, adding that “it’s a mas­sive re­spon­si­bil­ity but an hon­our for me to be ap­pointed the cap­tain”.

Though this marks her de­but to Cosafa, Jane was part of the Banyana sides that cam­paigned at Olympics and African Women’s Cham­pi­onships late last year. The Tsh­wane Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy stu­dent with 74 caps will share the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in mid­field with Le­an­dra Smeda (69 caps). In­terim coach El­lis is ex­pect­ing as much from her stand-in skip­per.

“This is noth­ing new to her, she’s been a leader on the field al­ready when Ja­nine was here,” noted El­lis. Banyana, who have been in camp for a week, never re­ally got to play a high-level friendly prior to the tour­na­ment ex­cept for a game against School of Ex­cel­lence. El­lis said if South Africa were to dis­place the likes of Nige­ria, Ghana and Cameroon at the top, “Cosafa is where you start”.

“We al­ways drum it: ‘do not un­der­es­ti­mate your op­po­nents’,” said El­lis, who has called up six new players for the 12-day tour­na­ment. South Africa will have lit­tle time to rest as they face Namibia to­mor­row. Banyana fix­tures: To­day: v Le­sotho, 2pm To­mor­row: v Namibia, 2pm Sun­day: v Botswana, 2pm Mothowa­gae is in Zim­babwe, cour­tesy of Sa­sol

/ RYAN WILKISKY/ BACKPAGEPIX

Re­filoe Jane will lead SA in the Cosafa Women’s Cup in Zim­babwe in the ab­sence of cap­tain Ja­nine van Wyk.

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